5/19 at 6 pm – What’s Buzzin’: From your backyard to the backcountry

Great news!

What’s Buzzin’: From your backyard to the backcountry

We have a WBA meeting coming up, so mark your calendars!  You don’t want to miss this one!

Date: Wednesday, May 19th 

Time: 6pm-7:30pm

Where: Via Zoom – please register for this event by clicking here: 

For the past seven years, the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium has been compiling insect and arthropod photos as part of its weekly What’s Buzzin’ report – highlighting some of the species currently out and about in western Montana. Glenn Marangelo will share photos and information about some of the incredible species that have been documented as part of this popular seasonal account. If you’ve ever wondered “what that bug was” in your backyard or while out on a hike in the backcountry, this may answer some of your burning insect identification questions.


Glenn Marangelo: Originally from NJ, Glenn has called Missoula, MT home since 1995. He has worked as a non-profit fundraiser ever since moving to Missoula, having worked with Five Valleys Land Trust and Wilderness Watch, among other positions. In 2009 he helped found the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium (MBHI) and in mid 2016 became the organization’s first Development Director. In addition to fundraising, Glenn makes insect-filled visits on Montana Public Radio’s Pea Green Boat, contributes to MBHI’s What’s Buzzin’ reports, writes the organization’s Bug Bytes podcast, and loves to “talk bugs”. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting, birding …and of course, observing and learning about insects.

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5/5 at 6 pm – Colors, Choices, and Conflict with Nathan Morehouse

Title: Colors, Choices, and Conflict: Evolutionary Insights from the Reproductive Biology of Butterflies


Pre-register for this meeting at:

Pieris rapae crucivora - mating pair (Masaki Ikeda)
Pieris rapae crucivora – mating pair (Masaki Ikeda)

Why are male butterflies often more colorful than females? And if female preferences are responsible for the evolution of male colors, what benefits do females enjoy from choosing more colorful males as mates? Dr. Morehouse will tackle these topics and others related to butterfly courtship, mating and reproduction as he discusses recent insights from his research into the colorful lives of these remarkable animals.

 A preview of his presentation (from 2017) can be found in an Atlantic article titled “This Common Butterfly Has an Extraordinary Sex Life”:  https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/butterfly-cabbage-white-vagina-dentata/530889/

Nathan Morehouse
Nathan Morehouse

Dr. Morehouse is an Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Institute for Research in Sensing at the University of Cincinnati. His research focuses on the visual ecology and evolutionary biology of insects and spiders. He also has strong interests in interdisciplinary research and conversations between science and the arts. More information about him and his life’s work can be found in this recent Q&A published in Currently Biology:

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4/21 at 6 pm – Food Plant Guilds with Jonathan Pelham

Great news!

We have a WBA meeting coming up, so mark your calendars!

Date: Wednesday, April 21st 

Time: 6pm-7:30pm

Where: Via Zoom – please register for this event by clicking here:  

Food Plant Guilds for our Butterflies – Presented by Jon Pelham

The plants that support the life history of two or more butterfly species, the network of living communities they belong to and some consideration of how this came/comes to be. Bio – Jon Pelham has studied butterflies since he was twelve.  He met Robert Michael Pyle in 1967 and he managed to get around Jon’s owly parts. They are colleagues and friends; he is ever grateful that Bob is willing to stand in the klieg lights of public, uh, adoration. Together they have watched their community grow into something not imagined, or hindered, by them. It was/is impossible to educate Jon – he’d rather do it himself, thank you very much! He became a LTL and PUD ‘city’ truck driver instead (less than a load, pick up and delivery). He is a Teamster for life. It supported his family and his habit and keeps him alive presently! Despite himself, the UW Burke Museum found his skills useful and, in 1972, he volunteered to study butterflies under their watch. Yes, he need(ed) watching. Jon has 5 kids, one of which he spawned, all of which he loves dearly. They spent a lot of time in the field with him. 

Jon has authored some papers but the most important thing he has accomplished is:
A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada: with a complete bibliography of the descriptive and systematic literature.  A ‘butterfly book’ with well over 600 pages and nary an image of a butterfly! That’s how he rolls! He keep it updated: A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada http://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/US-Can-Cat.htm

Bob Pyle and Jon Pelham 2008

Just a few things about zoom and the upcoming meeting:

1) Participants will be muted upon entering the meeting so please keep yourselves muted during the meeting unless you are talking just to keep outside noise levels down

2) Please register in advance for this meeting you can do this by clicking the link below or the same link at the top of the email: 

After registering you will receive an email confirmation containing information about joining the meeting.

WBA hopes to see you all there!!!



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4/7 at 7 pm – “Stripes, bands, and blotches – Oh My”

Zoom with Dr Moria Robinson
“Stripes, bands, and blotches – Oh My! the evolution of color and pattern in caterpillars”

Register in advance for this meeting:

Description: Many of us fell in love with butterflies and moths for their remarkable diversity of color and pattern. Whether bright or earth-toned in color, arranged in spots or bands or irregular blotches, their appearance plays an important role: it can conceal from predators, advertise vigor for potential mates, or signal presence of distasteful or toxic compounds in their own bodies. However, while much research has focused on how and why adult butterflies and moths appear the way they do, much less attention is paid to the ‘looks’ of the immature forms. As non-reproductive larvae, moths and butterflies have a singular purpose: eat fast, get big, and metamorphose as soon as possible into an adult – without getting eaten along the way. As popular food items, caterpillars have evolved an array of strategies to avoid predators. They can be incredibly camouflaged; or they can stand out from their background, warning would-be predators away. I have been studying why this diversity of strategies has evolved. Two prominent ideas are that dietarily specialized species – those that eat only a single kind of host plant – will be more effective at sequestering toxins within their bodies, and will therefore advertise their noxiousness with warning (“aposematic”) coloration. A related hypothesis posits that species feeding on woody plants will opt for camouflage, both because woody plants tend not to produce toxins, and because there are more places to hide within an architecturally-complex shrub or tree. Other hypotheses, from the times of Darwin and Wallace, suggested that grass-feeding species should boast a stripe to help them blend in with the shape of grass blades. To test these ideas, we assembled a phylogeny (tree of life) of 1808 species of butterfly and moth in North America, for which photographs of larvae were available. We used many field guides (including from very own David Nunnallee and David James!), and categorized the colors and patterns in each species, as well as information about their diet. We were excited to find that colors and patterns can be grouped into “cryptic/camouflage” and “warning” categories, and that these colorations are related to the kind of plants caterpillars eat. We can thank the plants and the birds – the food and the predators – for the grand and beautiful parade of caterpillar appearance!

Bio: Moria Robinson is a research associate at Michigan State University, where she studies the many ways insects and plants interact. In particular, she is interested in how insects have evolved to eat the great diversity of physical, nutritive, and chemical traits found in plants, and how plants have evolved to fend off their consumers. She grew up on Vashon Island, Washington, where her interest in butterflies was encouraged by the wonderful community of WABA. She went to Middlebury College, Vermont, where she majored in biology and did a senior thesis project on host plant choice of silvery blue butterflies in suburban King County. She went on to receive her PhD from the University of California, Davis, in 2018, studying caterpillar communities in the California chaparral shrub ecosystems, and where the study she is discussing today began. When she is not stuck to her computer screen, Moria enjoys road tripping with her dog, enjoying the desert West with her partner, and photographing caterpillars on whatever plants are nearby.

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3/23 at 9 am – Butterflies in the Methow with Cheryl Bellin

Introduction to Butterflies in the Methow with Cheryl Bellin, Tuesday, March 23rd, 9 AM, register here.
Hosted by Methow At Home

“Add some color to your day, join Cheryl Bellin for an introduction to Butterflies of the Methow.  She’s a lifelong butterflier, a Washington Butterfly Association board member and contributor to the Washington Butterfly database project led by Jonathan Pelham. 

We will review butterfly families and their characteristics using photographs from her garden, nearby trails, and roadsides.  Local butterflies, their host plants, and habitats will then be discussed to aid your seeing and recognizing these beauties come spring.”

Trying to generate interest, awareness locally for butterflies.  I’ll present an introduction to butterflies and feature those spring fliers that have yet to show themselves!  

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